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Morning Roundup: Eagles assert themselves as 'tough, nasty, physical' in gritty win over Saints

AP Photo/Derik Hamilton
AP Photo/Derik Hamilton

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Fresh off of his four-year contract extension signed on Friday, tight end Dallas Goedert held on to the ball to convert this third-down situation in the second quarter. The drive ended with one of Jake Elliott's four field goals to extend their lead to 20-7.

Tough, nasty, physical: Eagles assert themselves with dominant run game vs. Saints

With a group of new coaches, new systems, and young players coming into this season, a common question surrounded the team.

"What would their identity be?"

In the beginning of the season, it still felt like the Eagles were trying to find who they wanted to be. After back-to-back wins, Head Coach Nick Sirianni believes his team's identity is starting to show.

"It's a close-knit group of guys that connect. It's a physical group of guys and it's guys that leave everything out there on the field," Sirianni said after getting his first regular-season win at home, a 40-29 victory over the New Orleans Saints. "That was on display today."

In the last couple of games, the Eagles have displayed how powerful they are in the run game. On Sunday afternoon against the visiting New Orleans Saints and their No. 1-ranked run defense, the Eagles' rushing game was put to the test. Sirianni's goal was to continue to run the ball. The Saints' defense could not contain the run game as the Eagles totaled 242 rushing yards. It marked the fourth straight game in which the team has recorded 175-plus rushing yards.

"We know we've been running the ball well. You want to make them stop what you do well, which is running the ball and that was our goal going out there," said Sirianni.

After missing three games due to an ankle injury, running back Miles Sanders was the leading rusher with 94 yards and quarterback Jalen Hurts was not far behind him with 69 yards. Sanders knows how impactful Hurts is to their run game, but he says you have to give credit where credit is due.

"Having Jalen makes it 10 times easier, but you really got to get credit to the offensive line," Sanders said.

Running back Boston Scott, who stepped up while Sanders was out, talked about how important that front line is for the run game.

"It just starts with the big guys up front. The amount of work they put in with Stout (Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland), not just the starting guys, but all of those guys, it means something to them. They pride themselves on being a physical, grimy, nasty group," said Scott. "Each week they want the game to be put on their backs. That's their mindset. That's how they come in each week. As running backs, we love that."

"We've got tough, gritty guys. That's gonna win you a lot of football games. When you're physical and when you're tough, that's something throughout the history of football that is shown to help you win games," Sirianni said. "That common denominator is that they're tough, they're nasty, and they're physical."

One guy who showed how tough he is was Hurts, who became the first quarterback in Eagles history to rush for three scores in a single game on Sunday. When you ask Hurts about the identity of the team, he looks at the team's identity in a unique way.

"I think identity is not being able to run a ball or we're a running team. We're a passionate team. We're a team that doesn't give up big explosive plays. That's not what identity is," said Hurts, who also threw for 147 yards. "Identity is a mentality. It's a mentality. It's an approach that is the detail you put in, day in and day out throughout the week. It's being physical. I think that's what we want to be."

– Jillian Oddo

Eagles Insider's Recap: Outstanding performances in all 3 phases lead to convincing win

The Eagles left no doubt on Sunday that as the season enters its stretch run, they are all business. Starting fast and keeping their foot on the gas pedal, the Eagles walloped the New Orleans Saints at Lincoln Financial Field 40-29 with a devastating three-phase attack for a two-game winning streak that raised their record to 5-6.

OFFENSE

The subplot of the game to watch was an Eagles running game that entered the game leading the NFC in rushing, one that averaged 208.7 yards per game in the previous three games, going against a New Orleans defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL in run defense through 10 weeks, allowing only 72.9 yards per game.

It was no contest.

The Eagles played bully ball led by an offensive line that blew a very good New Orleans front seven off the line of scrimmage.

"It's great playcalling. Coach (Nick) Sirianni has really committed to running the ball and it makes the rest of the game easier," right guard Jack Driscoll said. "It's an attitude when you run the ball in the NFL. You're kind of saying, 'Hey, we're going to put down their throat and we're going to run the ball. You've seen in the last few weeks it's really taking off and you're seeing what kind of team we're becoming. We're all excited about it.

"They were the best run defense in the NFL. That gives us confidence going forward. We know we can run the ball on anyone. We just have to bring it. Coach Stout (Jeff Stoutland) is the best offensive line coach in the NFL. He puts us in the position. He works us hard all week to make sure that we know what to expect in the game and we just go out and execute."

DEFENSE

They've talked about being a "takeaway machine" on defense and that's exactly what the Eagles are doing. Three takeaways on Sunday led to 17 points and Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon set the tone early when he sent cornerback Avonte Maddox on a blitz to hurry quarterback Trevor Siemian and end a possession. The defense played downhill for most of the day and those takeaways and the pressure overpowered the Saints.

"It was a good call by JG," said Maddox, who inked a three-year contract extension on Saturday. "We had been practicing that all week in dime with me and (Marcus) Epps coming off the end. They were in a bunch (formation) and I wanted to make sure I got my angle right, so I played it off a little bit. I timed it up perfect and I disrupted the pass and it was pretty cool.

"Our first meeting every week, we talk about taking the ball away. JG emphasizes that in our meetings and Coach Sirianni comes in and talks about 'the ball. The ball.' The ball is everything and we want to make sure that we take the ball away and give as many opportunities to our offense to score points."

Edwards dropped in coverage for his interception and made a leaping grab of a pass intended for tight end Adam Trautman. The takeaway set the Eagles up at the New Orleans 39-yard line in the first quarter and Edwards said it was just a matter of reading Siemian and making a play.

A really, really big play.

"It was honestly reading the quarterback's eyes and I saw the over out coming behind me. You know, just making a play on the football, but the rush was getting there so we knew we had to get it out quick. So yeah, just made the play, so everything was locked up and he had no other choice but to try to fit it in. We finally got one and it felt good."

Slay stepped in front of a Siemian pass intended for wide receiver Deonte Harris in the waning seconds of the first half, breaking perfectly on the throw to the sidelines and making a clean interception. It was no contest from there as Slay raced down the sidelines in front of the New Orleans bench 51 yards for the score to give the Eagles a 27-7 lead at the half. Slay was not available to the media after the game as he exited the game in the second half to be evaluated for a head injury. It was Slay's third defensive score in the past four weeks.

"I mean, it's Slay. He made a really good break on the ball. I think everyone really stopped running as soon as he caught it," Edwards said. "We knew he wasn't getting caught. It was just a really good play by him. Again, he's a guy who's been doing that for a long time and he's coming up big for us right now."

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jake Elliott is now 18-for-20 on field goal attempts and he's 3-for-3 from 50-plus yards away. He scored a career-high 16 points on Sunday to move into third place on the franchise's all-time scoring list, and he's calm as can be about it.

"Obviously things are clicking. (Long snapper) Rick (Lovato) is doing a great job, (Eagles punter/holder) Arryn (Siposs) is doing a great job, and I'm just really comfortable," Elliott said. "It's fun every day going out with (Special Teams Coordinator Michael) Clay, going out with (Special Teams Quality Control Coach) Tyler (Brown) and the guys, and we really enjoy what we're doing. I'm just trying to strike the ball clean week in and week out, and trying to perfect the craft. I'm trying to have good foot to ball, good rotation, all of the nerdy stuff about kickers."

News and notes following Head Coach Nick Sirianni's first home victory

• It was the Eagles' second 40+ point performance of the year (also Week 8 at Detroit – 44-6). Philadelphia has scored at least 40 points in multiple games for the first time since the 2017 campaign (also twice). Sunday's 40-point effort marked Philadelphia's most points scored in a home game since 2017 vs. Denver (51-23).

• The Eagles have also registered 30+ points five times this year. The last time they produced 30+ points on five-or-more occasions through 11 games was in 2017 (seven).

• Philadelphia rushed for a season-high 242 yards against the NFL's No. 1-ranked rushing defense (72.9 YPG entering Sunday). The Eagles have totaled 200+ rushing yards in three of their last four games, including each of the last two contests (216 rushing yards in Week 10 at Denver). This is the first time Philadelphia has rushed for 200+ yards in consecutive games since the 1978 season, when the team did so in three straight games. The Eagles' three 200+ yard games are their most in a season since 2013 (5). Philadelphia's 242 rushing yards are the club's most in a game since posting 246 yards against the Saints' defense last season at Lincoln Financial Field.

• The Eagles' 50 rushing attempts were their most in a game since 1997 vs. Washington, when they produced 203 yards and 3 TDs on 50 carries in a 24-10 victory. The Eagles are the first team this season to attempt 50 rushes in a single game.

• Philadelphia converted 12-of-21 (57.1%) third-down attempts on Sunday. The last time the Eagles converted 12+ third downs was in 2008 at N.Y. Giants (also 12).

• Jalen Hurts is the 13th Eagle to rush for three touchdowns in a single game and the first since Boston Scott in 2019 at the Giants. He is the first Eagles quarterback to accomplish the feat. He has also rushed for 50+ yards in five consecutive games, which is the longest streak by an Eagles QB since Randall Cunningham did so in six straight games during the 1990 season.

– News and notes compiled by the Eagles' public relations department

Back at home, check out the best photos from Week 11.

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